I came across an interesting article in The Korea Herald on Friday (Seoul time). Here’s the link to it.
Taekwondo is nearly synonymous with Korean pride and honor. It’s the country’s national sport, and I see taekwondo academies and centers all over Seoul.
The Herald’s article, though, introduced me to an idea I had not realized. With the rise of mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting through organizations such as Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Xtreme Fighting Championships (XFC), taekwondo is faring poorly.
As an example, the article points to Brazilian fighter Lyoto Machida’s recent UFC win against the undefeated (at the time) American Rashad Evans. I saw that fight. Machida deserved the win.
The problem is that taekwondo fighters are getting their behinds kicked by fighters who have studied other martial arts such as judo, karate, and Muay Thai.
Those who promote taekwondo here in Korea say they are hoping to find a *star* who can bring taekwondo back from the doldrums.
However, the article also suggests that there is a serious division between the World Taekwondo Federation, which promotes it as a sport, and the International Taekwondo Federation, which views it as a martial art.
Meanwhile, Koreans can pin their hopes on two fighters who will be part of the highlight fights at the upcoming UFC 100 Championship next week. SuperAction, the Korean channel that airs UFC fights, has been heavily promoting Yoshihiro Akiyama and Dong Hyun Kim for the past couple of months. They even have their own commercials.
By the way, both of these guys are trained in … judo.